Walden, a game, simulates the experiment in living made by Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond in 1845-47, allowing players to walk in his virtual footsteps, attend to the tasks of living a self-reliant existence, discover in the beauty of a virtual landscape the ideas and writings of this unique philosopher, and cultivate through game play their own thoughts and responses to the concepts discovered there.
The game takes place in a real-time 3D environment which replicates the geography of Walden Pond and the woods in which Thoreau made his home. Beyond the replication of a virtual environment, however, the game play itself embodies the experiment that Thoreau set for himself, reinforcing the basic messages of his work.
Walden, a game posits a new genre of play, in which reflection and insight play an important role in the player experience. While traveling the virtual world of Walden, the player applies themselves to both daily task of maintaining the basic aspects of life at Walden Pond, as well as having the opportunity to focus on the deeper meaning behind events that transpire in the world. By attending to these events, the player is able to gain insight into the natural world, and into connections that permeate the experience of life at Walden.
Walden, a game simulates both personal and environmental life, modeling the basic personal needs outlined by Thoreau, as well as some of the more experiential concepts he described. Furthermore, the game takes advantage of the detailed notes that Thoreau took about the pond, and its surrounding landscape, flora and fauna.
The design team involved in recreating Thoreau’s life at Walden Pond has been working together for more than five years, and several are part of the core team behind the innovative Night Journey project. As well as myself, the current Walden team includes Todd Furmanski, Luke Peterson, Kurosh ValaNejad, Shaun Kim, Michael Sweet, Logan Ver Hoef, Alex Mathew and Timothy Lee.